Doing This One Thing at Home Greatly Reduces Your Coronavirus Risk

Since being indoors presents a much greater coronavirus risk than outdoors, you need to follow this tip.

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There's a lot that medical and public health experts still have to learn about the virus that causes COVID-19. But among all the data that's emerged, one thing is clear: The virus is far more likely to be transmitted indoors than it is outdoors, due to a lack of air flow. And while you can't exactly control the air at a grocery store, you can do your part to keep yourself and your family members safer at home by doing one thing: installing proper ventilation.

Benjamin J. Cowling, head of the Division of Epidemiology and Biostatistic at Hong Kong University Medicine, and PhD candidate Dillon C. Adam recently looked at a number of super-spreading events from across the world—from call centers in South Korea to meatpacking outbreaks in the United States. They determined that outbreaks essentially came from crowded and poorly ventilated areas, as their assessment in The New York Times makes clear. Turns out that aerosolized droplets that contain COVID-19 can hang in the air, which present the most risk.

The epidemiologists note that "transmission is more likely during gatherings indoors than outdoors," adding that "simply ventilating a room can help." They go on to note that they "believe that with the South Korean call-center cluster, the essential factor of transmission was the extent of time spent in a crowded office area."

Similarly, a recent study from scientists at the University of Surrey's Global Centre for Clean Air Research (GCARE) found that ventilation systems that are enhanced by particle filtration and air disinfection systems, and those which avoid recirculating air, are the most effective at keeping people safe. "An improved indoor ventilation is an important step that can be taken to reduce the risk of infection," Prashant Kumar, director of GCARE, said in a statement. "Ventilation plays a critical role in removing exhaled virus-laden air, thus lowering the overall concentration and therefore any subsequent dose inhaled by the occupants."

To be clear, the vast majority of homes are not infected with the coronavirus, and people who live together—who have abided by social distancing guidelines—most likely have little to worry about. But it doesn't hurt to invest in a portable air filter, and to open up a window or two to ensure you and your loved ones stay safe. And for more on staying safe, check out The Riskiest Places You're Going Right Now—Ranked by Doctors.

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